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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fresh produce is the albatross around grocers' necks — it's got a razor-thin profit margin, it spoils quickly, and illnesses can prompt public hysteria. But now, they hope blockchain is a solution.

What's going on: IBM is using blockchain to track the journey of a bunch of spinach from the farmer to the shopper's cart. Knowing, and trusting, the vegetable's precise origin will reduce cases of people getting sick from food, IBM says.

How it works: In a blockchain, a network of computers creates a record of any string of events. That allows it to track anything from transactions to food. No middleman is involved, which blockchain enthusiasts say increases trust between parties.

For example, if a single bag of spinach infects someone with E. Coli., shoppers will stay away from any and all leafy greens for weeks, even months, until they're confident they won't get sick.

  • Using blockchain to track that bag means determining exactly where the contaminated spinach came from, instead of sending the entire industry into a whodunnit panic, says Brigid McDermott, who leads IBM's blockchain food-tracking arm.

Food is also perishable — another big headache for retailers. Blockchain may one day solve that too, McDermott says.

  • Sometimes you buy fresh berries, and they only last one or two days. Maybe that's because they were exposed to heat a little too long.
  • Recorded transactions on a blockchain might reveal, in real time, that the berries have been left out in the sun in an Arizona facility, at which point the retailers can make the decision to divert to a store within Arizona instead of shipping them out to Florida, says McDermott.

Go deeper

"Several casualties" after officer attacked at Pentagon Metro station

Law enforcement officers patrolling the Pentagon's transit station on August 3. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Pentagon Force Protection Agency Chief Woodrow Kusse said an officer was attacked at a transit station outside the Pentagon on Tuesday morning, gunfire was exchanged between the suspect and law enforcement and multiple people were injured.

The big picture: The headquarters of the U.S. military went under temporary lockdown after multiple shots were fired. The area reopened after being secured, though the station remains closed, according to the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.

More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Life for the unvaccinated could get more difficult as bosses increasingly move to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

The big picture: The federal Government in May said it is legal for companies to require employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Schumer, Gillibrand renew calls for Gov. Cuomo to resign after damning report

Photo: Spencer Platt/AFP via Getty Images

Top New York Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, renewed calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign on Tuesday after an independent investigation concluded he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of federal and state law.

Why it matters: Cuomo had previously urged those calling for his resignation to wait for the results of the investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James. But following the release of the investigation's report, he refused to step down, saying "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed."

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